California Nonprofits and Former Reparations Task Force Members Launch ‘Alliance for Reparations, Reconciliation, and Truth

The California Black Power Network (CBPN), Equal Justice Society (EJS), and six former members of the California Reparations Task Force – Dr. Cheryl Grills, Lisa Holder, Dr. Jovan Scott Lewis, Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, Senator Steven Bradford, and Donald Tamaki – today announced the formation of a new collaboration called the Alliance for Reparations, Reconciliation, and Truth.

The Alliance’s mission is to educate the public about reparations; amplify the California Reparations Task Force’s report and its recommendations; achieve broad-based, multi-racial public support of reparations; and grow the base of multi-racial and multi-sector allies who support reparations in California.

In addition to CBPN and EJS, the Alliance includes a growing list of Black-led and non-Black ally organizations such as Black Equity Collective, Catalyst California, AAPIFORCE, PICO California, Nikkei Progressives, and Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (NCRR).

The historic report (https://oag.ca.gov/ab3121/report) by the California Reparations Task Force draws a throughline from the harm of 246 years of enslavement, 90 years of Jim Crow and racial terror, and decades more of continuing discrimination, resulting in today’s grossly disparate outcomes for Black Californians. The report includes 115-plus policy recommendations to the California State Legislature to stop the harm from continuing and to determine a feasible long-term approach to address the harms that were centuries in the making.

A May 2023 poll from UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies found strong support in California for a range of reparations measures for Black Americans, particularly those focused on systemic reforms and investments in communities. 

Both of the Alliance’s nonprofit partners have been deeply engaged in the reparations movement. California Black Power Network (CBPN), a permanent coalition of nearly 40 organizations, led a year-long community engagement campaign and submitted nearly 5,000 letters from community members to the task force. CBPN reached over 200,000 Californians through their policy, organizing, and communications efforts.

Holder, President of the Equal Justice Society, and a former member of the task force, worked with Grills and Tamaki to organize philanthropic support for repairing the harm and to obtain endorsements from more than 470 organizations and businesses listed on https://supportreparations.org supporting the report or the study of reparations in California. They expect to achieve 1,000 endorsements by the end of 2023.

Leaders representing the Alliance met with the California Legislative Black Caucus and extended an invitation to work together on coordinating organizing and outreach efforts with any legislation sponsored by the Black Caucus related to the task force report recommendations.

The Alliance may also explore approaches based on the task force report recommendations at the international, federal, regional, and municipal levels.

Sign up to receive updates on the Alliance at https://alliancefor.org.

STATEMENTS FROM ALLIANCE LEADERS

James Woodson, Co-founder and Executive Director of the California Black Power Network:

“In the words of the great James Baldwin, ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.’ The CA Reparations Task Force report was the State’s first attempt to confront one of its original sins, and now it’s time to meet the moment and poke the bear. CBPN is proud to partner with EJS, Reparations Task Force members, and other allies and partners in the formation of the Alliance for Reparations, Reconciliation, and Truth, and we look forward to taking reparations from just a California dream to a lived reality for Black Californians.”

Lisa Holder, former member of the California Reparations Task Force, and President of the Equal Justice Society:

“In these divided times, our coalition promotes a cross-racial alliance that centers reparations as a unifying force for building a sustainable multicultural democracy. I firmly believe that healing and truth-telling is the path to reconciliation. We can only heal and come together as one human family after we take concrete steps to repair the harm and pay the debt owed to those family members who have been systematically gaslit, marginalized, and stymied.  Unlike so many nations that have used reparations to atone for colossal crimes against humanity, this nation has yet to center truth, healing, and apology as a framework for repairing the harms of slavery and segregation and their continuing consequences.  Our alliance begins the long overdue healing journey that will ultimately deliver the promise of a more perfect union.”

Dr. Cheryl Grills, former member of the California Reparations Task Force, and Loyola Marymount University Professor of Psychology, Director of their Psychology Applied Research Center, and President’s Professor in their College of Liberal Arts:

“We have nothing better, more revolutionary, or rewarding to do at this time than to foster truth, repair, and reconciliation by advancing reparations in California. This is a case for justice whose time has come. This is a case for Black Californians present and past to be seen, felt, heard, and understood. This is a case for justice that bears fruit for healing for all Californians.”

Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, former member of the California Reparations Task Force:

“The alliance brings advocate groups, academics, legal professionals, and legislators together to take on this historic and challenging endeavor. I am thankful to the California Black Power Network and the Equal Justice Society for taking on lead roles with the united goal of advocating for policies that will be in the spirit of the California Reparations Task Force’s final recommendations.”

Donald K. Tamaki, former member of the California Reparations Task Force and Senior Counsel, Minami Tamaki LLP:

“Now that the task force has accomplished its objectives, this new alliance will carry the torch and help drive the movement forward. We have a societal obligation to repair the harms that began in 1619 and continued through every chapter of American history thereafter, right to the present day. We call upon the Legislature to develop a feasible approach, spanning years, in good economies and bad, to study the 115-plus recommendations and address the harms that have been decades, if not centuries, in the making.”

About California Black Power Network. The California Black Power Network (https://blackpowernetwork.org) is a united ecosystem of Black grassroots organizations working together to change the lived conditions of Black Californians by dismantling systemic and anti-Black racism. By protecting and building Black political power through policy development, civic participation, organizing, direct action, and uplifting Black culture, and narrative, we will improve the living conditions of Black Californians. Our statewide partners include: A New Way of Life Reentry Project, Amelia Ann Adams Whole Life Center, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Black Equity Collective (BEC), Black Women For Wellness, BLU Educational Foundation, Black Women Organized for Political Action, CA Black Women’s Health Project, Catalyst California, Central Valley Urban Institute, Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE), Dignity & Power Now, Empower Initiative / LiveFree, FIERCE Advocates (formerly Building Blocks for Kids Richmond), Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce, Healthy Black Families Inc., LA Community Action Network (LA CAN), Million Voters Project (MVP), Partnerships for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA), Pillars of the Community, Safe Return Project, SD Black Workers Center, Starting Over, Inc., The Community Action League, Voice of the Youth, Alliance San Diego, Bay Area PLAN, Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency (BOSS), Community Coalition, IE Black Worker Center Initiate Justice, LA Black Worker Center, RYSE Center, Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE), Social Justice Learning Institute, SoCal Black Worker Hub, Time for Change Foundation.

About Equal Justice Society. The Equal Justice Society (https://equaljusticesociety.org) is transforming the nation’s consciousness on race through law, social science, and the arts. Our legal strategy aims to broaden conceptions of present-day discrimination to include unconscious and structural bias by using social science, structural analysis, and real-life experience. Currently, EJS targets its advocacy efforts on school discipline, special education, the school-to-prison pipeline, race-conscious remedies, and inequities in the criminal justice system. The Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit also engages the arts and artists in creating work and performances that allow wider audiences to understand social justice issues and struggles.